Table revenue record in Pennsylvania, but free-play under threat

Pennsylvania Tom Wolf
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]able game takings for the month of March reached a record high in the US state of Pennsylvania, according to the state’s Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

Across the region’s 12 casinos, table revenue amounted to $77.9m (E67.6m). The result equated to a like-for-like increase of 11.7 per cent, and was more that $5.7m (E4.95m) higher than the previous monthly record, set last December.

Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem topped the list of table earners, taking some $19.6m (E17m) last month, a 14.8 per cent increase on the prior-year period. Meanwhile Parx Casino came in second, with table drop just under $15.4m (E13.4m).

Combined with the PGCB’s previously released slot machine revenue stats, statewide casino revenue for March stood at $289.2m (E250.9m), just over four per cent higher than the March 2015 haul.

Table revenue is of particular importance to Pennsylvanian operators. At 55 per cent, the taxation rate they pay on slot income is the highest in the US. In contrast, table income is taxed at a far lower rate, with casinos keeping 86 cents of every dropped dollar.

The state also permits its casinos to utilise free-play slot credits as a means of marketing and promotion. State operators spent $621.9m (E539.5m) on these promotional credits last year alone – cash which, under current legislation, can be deducted from their balance sheets prior to the calculation of taxable slot income.

However, a new budget proposed by state governor Tom Wolf (pictured) seeks to close this loophole – and advocates that any revenue generated through the use of free-play credits should be counted as eligible for taxation.

The budgetary measure has been met with public dismay by one senior gaming executive – who compared it to taxing grocery store coupons.

“The idea of taxing free play makes little or no sense,” stated Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “It is counterproductive. It will cost the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in terms of tax revenue and will steal dollars away from reinvesting in properties.”

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